Today is my last day of work at FoodTools.  Six years of good times, lots of traveling, and many lessons learned.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything!  Tomorrow I’ll be officially unemployed and next week I’ll be a full time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker. 

Today we published the 50th issue of A Slice Of.., FoodTools’ internal company newsletter.  I’ve been writing the newsletter since November of 2007 and in my final issue I took the liberty to write one last personal message to my friends at FoodTools.  The article is below:

From The Editor…
The FoodTools newsletter hits a big milestone as this is the 50th issue of A Slice Of…  I have enjoyed writing the newsletter and this 50th issue is also my last.  The past 6 years have been a flash for me…multiple trade shows, countless days traveling to bakeries, over 100,000 miles on my car, dozens of advertisements, and 50 company newsletters.  I think life is well lived when nothing is regretted and I look back on FoodTools with great memories!  I have learned a lot during my time here…like look behind the truck before I back up, not everyone likes the color orange as much as I do, make sure to remove Divider Insert trays before hauling a machine down the 101, and even though orange still is not everyone’s favorite, it can be tolerable.  I hope that in the past 49 issues of A Slice Of… I’ve been able to bring good information, good humor, and good reading to everyone at FoodTools.  I also hope that in the past 4 years I’ve become a better writer, but it always helps to have a great proof reader!

My first interview with FoodTools was in April of 2006 in South Haven.  During the meeting Doug Petrovich asked me if I’d be interested in a sales job based in Santa Barbara, California…is that even an option for a kid from Indiana!?  Yes!  My first interview with Marty in Santa Barbara (my first visit to California) was on Mother’s Day in 2006, and the rest is history.

FoodTools has been a great experience for me.  This company offers a wide range of opportunities that cannot be found in most other organizations.  The commitment and belief in the company is unmatched in the industry.  I have learned more in my time here than I could have ever anticipated.  The opportunities here are endless and with vision and focus FoodTools will someday be in every kitchen in America, and around the world.  We can all be proud to be part of such a great company. 

So what is next for me?  Some people leave for a new job, some people leave because they are moving away, I’m leaving because I want to go hike more than 2,000 miles for 5 or 6 months.  I’ll be hiking the Appalachian Trail with my roommate from college.  The two of us will begin on Springer Mountain, just a few hours north of Atlanta, Georgia.  We will spend the better part of the next 6 months walking every day, enduring snow, rain, heat, humidity, water crossings, black flies, mosquitoes, snakes, bears, and probably a lot of things that I don’t even expect yet.  In the end, after 2,184 miles, we’ll summit Mount Katahdin in Maine.  Once we reach the peak we will have completed our northbound thru-hike, probably sometime around August or September.  Each year roughly 2,000 people attempt to thru-hike the AT, but typically less than 1 in 4 finish.  It is estimated that only a few hundred succeed each year.

So then what?  What happens after the trail is done?  I’m really not sure.  I look at this adventure as an opportunity to find my purpose in life.  I’m leaving with no obligations and no commitments once I return (not counting my commitment to my wife Amy, that is non-negotiable!).  I believe that 2,000+ miles and hours, days, and weeks in the woods will give me ample time to think and plan my next move in life.  Until then, I’m making no promises or plans and letting go!  I will be blogging along the trail each time I get a chance to get online and if you are interested you can follow my progress at:  www.hike2012.blogspot.com

I’ll leave you with a quote that I think sums up this crazy plan I have…I wish you all the best and I look forward to seeing you again when I return!

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”  – John Muir

Don’t forget to have fun!
– Chris Clemens, March 2012

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